Degrees in public administration could open up a variety of careers, such as city management, urban planning, economic development, non-profit management, and public office. Students who focus on public policy could work for governments or government agencies, think-tanks, and non-profit organizations.
While public administration focuses more on the intricacies of day-to-day government management, public policy often focuses more on broader policy issues and allows students to choose from specializations such as international policy, education policy, and environmental policy.
Undergraduate degrees in public administration and public policy can lead to entry-level positions in government, but many jobs in the field will require a master’s degree or some post-baccalaureate work. Many schools offer programs designed to prepare students for a life of public service at every degree level.
- Bachelor of Science in Public Administration and Policy, Kaplan University: The 180-hour degree program at Kaplan University focuses on the organization, structure, and processes of government to teach students about government and society at the local, state, regional, and national levels. Required courses, which earn students five or six hours each, cover topics including economics, socially responsible leadership, constitutional law, public policy analysis, private and public sector partnerships, finance and budgeting in the public sector, and planning for economic growth and development. Kaplan offers a fast track to a master’s degree program for students who complete this undergraduate program, offering an accelerated degree plan for pursuit of master’s degrees in public administration, criminal justice, environmental policy, legal studies, and homeland security and emergency management.
- Bachelor of Science in Public Administration, Upper Iowa University: Classes at Upper Iowa University begin every two months and last eight weeks at a time. Its bachelor’s degree in public administration requires courses in federal, state, and local governments, social welfare, public budgeting, and management principles. Students can choose a general emphasis or emphases in either law enforcement or fire science. General emphasis courses include business law, human resources management, the legislative process, urban management, and constitutional law.
- Graduate Certificate in Public Administration or Graduate Certificate in Public Personnel Administration, Indiana State University: Indiana State University offers two very similar graduate certificate programs in the service and management of the public sector: public administration, and public personnel management. Both 12-hour certificates require courses in public administration, organizational behavior in public agencies, and public personnel administration. While the public administration certificate requires a final course in budgeting in governmental agencies, the personnel administration certificate requires a final course in personnel law.
- Graduate Certificate in Public Management, University of Nebraska Omaha: This 15-credit certificate for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree requires four courses: public administration and democracy, public human resource management, public finance administration, and organization theory and behavior. Students can choose a fifth course from management information systems, municipal administration, public works administration, and administrative ethics and leadership.
- Master of Arts in Public Policy, New England College: Students at New England College will take two online courses every seven weeks, and can complete this master’s program in as little as two years. Courses cover topics including origins of American democracy, economic analysis, public policy analysis, governmental policy makers, and class, poverty, and race in America.
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